While several House Republicans have publicly stated they’ll break a promise to not raise taxes amid the fiscal cliff negotiations, Kansas Republican Rep. Tim Huelskamp has a different idea. He wants Republicans to join him in proclaiming reaffirmed commitments to the Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) pledge against tax increases.
“You can’t just say it once and then that’s it. It’s your word,” Huelskamp said in an interview with Breitbart News. He continued:
And I’m disappointed by some of my colleagues suggesting, "well, you know what? That’s just a pledge we made to our constituents. We don’t hold to that anymore." I want to encourage my colleagues and other Americans as well to say, "hey, why don’t you come out and reaffirm your pledge as well?" I think there’s a serious concern that Republicans are going to vote to raise taxes. That would be an economic folly and political stupidity and I’m trying to avoid that.
Huelskamp released a video of his reaffirmed pledge and is promoting a Twitter hashtag #IMeantIt.
The Kansas Republican is encouraging citizens nationwide to call their Congressmen and Senators and ask them where they stand on the pledge. “We have 238 current Republicans in the House who signed the tax pledge,” Huelskamp said. “A constituent in every one of their districts could call their offices and say ‘hey, will your boss reaffirm their commitment?’ I’m urging my colleagues to do that publicly and do that on video like I have. We need to get to these Republicans before they cave in on a tax increase.”
“All it takes is one person calling their congressman asking them to put a video out and reaffirm the pledge,” he added. “But, from what I’ve seen, most of them [House Republicans] have been very silent on this issue trying to leave themselves a little wiggle room.”
Republicans like Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Bob Corker of Tennessee and Saxby Chambliss of Georgia have said they’d be open to raising taxes. So have New York Reps. Peter King and Chris Gibson, among others.
While the left and Democrats demagogue against ATR president and founder Grover Norquist, Huelskamp said it couldn’t matter less who pushed the pledge. He said it’s about an idea. The pledge “is offered by ATR, and I actually signed the pledge when I was in the state legislature,” he said. “ATR had nothing to do with me signing it. It was offered by a local group. But the point is the pledge says nothing about them. It’s about constituents.”
Huelskamp said he’s not sure if there are enough conservatives in the House to stop a tax increase if House Speaker John Boehner goes for one. “I’m worried about that,” Huelskamp said. “When folks start saying ‘revenue’ you’re not sure what they mean. The Speaker says he’s about economic growth. But to others, when you say that word, it’s about higher taxes.”
Huelskamp, who was elected during the 2010 Tea Party wave, looks back on the past two years as unsuccessful for conservatism. “We’ve gotten on the wrong track in these negotiations by talking about ‘revenues,’ while not talking about cutting spending,” he said. “We have a spending problem. Not a revenue problem – so we need to talk more about the spending.”
“As a freshman still, I’m disappointed that Republicans have essentially gotten nothing over the past two years,” he added. “Even though we made a pledge to cut $100 billion, and we tried to, but we were unable to get that done.”
Huelskamp said the plan Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner presented to GOP leaders on behalf of President Obama was an “absolutely outlandish offer to increase spending, raise the debt ceiling without limit.” Huelskamp said he was shocked at how Geithner was “somehow” able to “offer that with a straight face.”
“The reality is we can’t carry a $16.3 trillion debt, adding a trillion dollars a year, for the next 75 years or even one year,” he said. “I wonder if the folks outside this country that continue to fund this are one day soon going to say ‘no.’”
Congressional GOP leaders on Monday presented a counter proposal to the administration that reportedly would include $800 billion in tax reform, $600 billion in health care cuts and $600 billion in other cuts. A spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner didn’t immediately respond to a request from Breitbart News asking if he’s promising not to increase taxes during the fiscal cliff negotiations.